Maryland Expungement Law for Criminal Charges

Maryland has an expungement statute to take criminal charges off your record.  So when you are asked “Have you ever been charged with a crime?”, you can truthfully say no.  The purpose of the expungement statute is to give certain applicants for employment or educational opportunities to be unfairly judged because they were simply accused of a crime.

Crim. Proc. § 10-105 (2019)

The Maryland expungement statute,  Crim. Proc. § 10-105(a), provides that “[a] person who has been charged with the commission of a crime … may file a petition listing relevant facts for expungement of a police record, court record, or other record maintained by the State or a political subdivision of the State.” Crim. Proc. § 10-105(a).

You Can’t Later Be Convicted of a Crime

You have to have clean hands to get an expungement.  You may not seek expungement if the petition is based on the entry of a nolle prosequi and you have since been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation or you are currently facing criminal charges.

So expungement is not a possibility for you if you are later convicted of a crime or you have charges pending again you.

Three Year Wait for Expungement

Maryland’s expungement law allows a court to “grant a petition for expungement at any time on a showing of good cause.”  § 10-105(c)(8).  But, usually, if you want to expunge eligible criminal charges, you need to wail for three years after the charges are resolved to file an expungement petition.  § 10-105(c).

Is there an end-run around the three years?  You can get an expungement “the petitioner files with the petition a written general waiver and release of all the petitioner’s tort claims arising from the charge.” Crim. Proc. § 10-105(c)(1). So in other words, you have to get rid of the possibility of civil charges against you for the crime.

How Expungement Works

You petition for expungement.  The Circuit Court will serve the petition on the State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney has the opportunity to object to your petition within 30 days.

If there is no objection, you will get your expungement.   If an objection is filed, the court will have a hearing to decided whether you should get an expungement. Id. § 10-105(e).

How can you lose?  Either your petition is premature or you do not have clean hands.  See § 10-105(e)(4)(i)-(ii). Either you or the State’s attorney can appeal any ruling.

How Much Does Expungement Cost in Maryland?

Maryland law requires a $30 filing fee for an expungement petition.  If the petition seeks to expunge records related exclusively to a charge of which the petitioner was acquitted, no fee is required.

Maryland Expungement Cases

  • In re Expungement Petition of Dione W (2019).  Overruling the Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Julie Glass, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that a woman was entitled to expungement of charges for driving on a suspended license, possessing a suspended license, and
    displaying a suspended license in spite of a later minor traffic violation conviction. Hat tip to Christina Ochoa at Maryland Legal Aid who represented the woman seeking an expungement.
  • Reid v. State (2018). The St. Mary’s County petitioner contended a right to have criminal records expunged without first having to file a petition for expungement. He filed a declaratory judgment action arguing that the requirement that he file a petition to initiate the expungement of criminal charges resulting in a disposition of nolle prosequi1 or “not guilty” deprives him of “his rights or property under article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.” He also objected to the “$35.00 fee for expungement” and his legal costs.  The remedy he really seemed to want was for the charges to be removed from Maryland Case Judiciary Search where everyone can seem them.  The Maryland Court of Special Appeals rejected these arguments, finding a key state interest in maintaining the law as it is.
  • Robert B. v. State v. State (2010). The State charged the petitioner in Baltimore City District Court with possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The State nolle prossed the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The remaining charge was later nolle prossed. The man then filed a Petition for Expungement of Records (along with a waiver and release because he was seeking an expungement within three years).  The State’s Attorney objected because he had been charged with armed robbery in Howard County more than five years after the cocaine charges were nolle pressed. He was still on probation for that crime.  Judge John A. Howard denied the petition.  The Public Defender’s office appealed (Mary–Denise Davis and Brian M. Saccenti).  The Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that there was no criminal proceeding pending as contemplated by CP § 10–105(e)(4)(ii)(2) at the time the petition for expungement was filed and reversed the trial court.

Note: Our law firm does not handle criminal cases or expungements.  We provide this for information purposes only.